You know that feeling you get when you walk outside on a perfect, sunny day? You breathe in the fresh, clean air; you feel the gentle breeze. You hear the twittering birds and admire the beautiful trees and flowers, the blue skies and drifting clouds. You feel at once uplifted and relaxed. It’s a good feeling. And it’s good for you, too. Experts say spending time in nature can benefit our health in a myriad of ways, both physically and psychologically.
It can also be a spiritual experience. I know I’ve been awestruck hiking in the mountains, strolling on woodsy trails, and gazing at starry skies. For followers of Earth-based religions (like Wiccan sleuth Keli Milanni), communing with nature is a sacred act. In fact, it’s foundational. You might even say it’s magical.
Yes, the earth is full of wonder and mystery, providing many gifts for those who pay attention. Here’s another one: Besides enjoying the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, how about feeling the ground beneath your feet? Literally. As in, without shoes or socks.
Have you heard of this practice? There’s a term for it—well, two terms actually. It’s called “grounding” or “earthing,” like the thing you might do with an electrical device to avoid getting shocked.
To put it another way: “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”
Drawing up energy from Mother Earth? That sounds wonderfully witchy to me! However, the quote above didn’t come from Patti Wigington. It’s from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. There have been several scientific studies proving this is a real thing, and lots of anecdotal evidence as well. Touching bare feet to the ground—whether to grass, dirt, sand, or even concrete—is said to promote better sleep, soothe colicky babies, eliminate jet lag, and reduce chronic pain, among other benefits. The recommended daily allowance of “earthing therapy” is generally a minimum of ten minutes per day, though some sources suggest twenty or thirty minutes.
When I first read about earthing, I was eager to give it a try. First, though, I had to wait for the weather to warm up. (I don’t know if grounding works in the cold, but I’m quite sure acquiring frostbite would be counterproductive!) As soon as spring finally sprang here in Chicago, I headed outside, kicked off my flip-flops, and placed my bare feet on the ground.
And you know what?
It felt good.
It really did. And I didn’t even have to wait ten minutes! I immediately noticed a slight rush of energy through the bottom of my feet. The warm patio was especially nice. Making direct contact with the ground gave me a sense of well-being and, yes, groundedness.
As for the squishy cold grass… that wasn’t quite as pleasant. I’ll have to try that again later in the summer. Still, squishy or not, it was kind of fun to tramp around the yard in my bare feet. It made me feel Bohemian and rugged. Like a hippie or a boss. (It’s my backyard, I’ll go barefoot if I want to!)
Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d ever gone shoeless. But it might have been the first time I did it so mindfully. The simple act of touching bare feet to the earth generated a refreshing sense of freedom—like being on a beach vacation. Or like being a kid again. Continue reading “Try Something New: Kick off your shoes to get in touch with nature by Jennifer David Hesse”